Driving around Burundi it occurs to me just how beautiful the world is; rolling hills with vivid shades of green fresh from the rainfall, peaks and valleys sculpting the breathtaking landscape of this precious country, laughing children playing along the roadside laughing and pointing as they see the “Muzungu” drive past, bright bursts of colour from patterned outfits that cause you to smile in spite of the dreary clouds and early morning, a couple of guys pushing a bike stacked with bananas up another hill together – because together is the only way, the taxi driver stepping out in the rain to open the door for his local passengers, the sun bursting through the thick grey clouds reminding me yet again that light really can shine through the darkness.
I don’t know these people, in fact on this particular trip I’ve spent very little time with locals at all (I’ve been visiting my team) and yet my heart is stirred as I sit and watch out the window – observing life, observing community, observing reality.
It occurs to me how vastly different my reality is to theirs. In a day or so I will be home. I will turn on my tap and drink the water from it freely and without fear of getting sick, I wont have to rise with the sun and work the fields all day in hope that I will be able to eat enough food and provide for my family, I will be paid a fair salary for my efforts, I wont be denied an education, when it gets dark I will switch on my lights, when it gets cold I will switch on my heating, If I get sick I will have no problem being seen by skilled and trained doctors, I will vote and it will be fair and as the night draws in I will not fear for my safety or live with the memories of war.
The world is an unjust place. It would seem that no matter how much I travel I will never get used to that and I will never be ok with that. Poverty is the most complex issue I know and there are no simple solutions or easy answers. It is a journey and it will be a long one. But this I know and pray I will always remember: I play a part in this story, I have a role – the problem isn’t someone else’s, it is mine. My life is connected to what is going on around the world and my choices have global implications, I can chose to ignore it or I can chose to engage. To engage may be costly and uncomfortable at times and progress may sometimes feel slow, but from everything I have seen and everything I know I am convinced it will be worth it. People are worth it.
Once again, it is good to be in Africa. My heart feels at home here.